Ethical and Sustainable Fashion at Fashfest Part 2

The rise of fast fashion and increasing consumer demand for the latest trends has cemented the fashion industry as one of the world’s biggest polluters. Textile waste, toxic chemicals, and pesticides used in farming are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the impact that the clothes on our back have on the environment.

An increasing number of designers and fashion labels are stepping up to make a change both in terms of cleaning up their supply chains and ensuring ethical conditions for their workers. In Part 2 of our interview series we chat with Cameron & James, and Pure Pod. Catch up with Part 1 here.

Cameron & James

 

Describe your approach to design.

When I begin a collection, I start by picturing a muse. I imagine how they live their life, who they are, where they live and in what period. For my new collection my inspiration came largely from picturing Rihanna traveling in Asia with some early 90s vibes. I then develop a storyboard with a selection of images, fabrics, and textures to establish the overall ‘mood’ of the collection. I’ll then progress into sketching out designs. I would estimate that for our current collection I have sketched more than 100 or so different ideas before I came up with a cohesive collection of looks.

 

Why is sustainable practice important to your label?

Sustainability in fashion is almost unheard of. A lot of labels focus on the product rather than the design, which results in a ‘fast fashion’ mentality where clothing is regularly purchased and rarely lasts. We believe that waste less and keep longer should be the most important guiding principle in design. My team and I ensure that every step in our process is taken with the overall picture in mind. We cut our patterns individually to reduce waste, using high quality, natural fabrics sourced from ethical, sustainable sources. We want to begin changing the way people see clothing, back to a time when clothing was cherished instead of just tossed away after one use.

 

How would you like to see the fashion industry move forward on issues such as sustainability and ethical practice?

I feel when it comes to these topics it’s as much a consumer issue as it is a business issue. There isn’t a lot of knowledge out there when it comes to the fashion industry. A lot of people still seem to have the idea that all clothing is made in a big factory by machines. There’s a growing awareness of ‘fast fashion’ industry practices and the conditions in which clothing is being produced in. I think that as the shift in public awareness of these things happens, more brands will begin adopting sustainable and ethical practices. We can already see this starting with organisations such as FASHFEST, Undress Runways, The Dress Collective, and Ethical Clothing Australia (ECA), helping independent labels with these practices already in place into the ‘mainstream’ and bringing knowledge to the public around sustainable and ethical practices.

 

What does participating in FASHFEST mean to you and your label?

When you have something important to say, it’s important that there are people listening. I’m so excited and honoured to share our new collection with our customers and having a platform like FASHFEST is such an honour. My team and I have worked incredibly hard creating an important step forward in our journey. Knowing that there’s so many people who love what we do is incredibly exciting. Our collection last year was met with so much success and we had not only national attention but a lot of international opportunities. We can’t wait to see what FASHFEST 2016 has in store.

 

 

Pure Pod

 

Describe your approach to design.

To begin my design process, I find something that inspires me, such as an interesting organic textile, a colour I love, a beautiful artwork, something from nature, another artist’s work, or an ethical point of view I want to show my customers through my designs. Then I start playing with fabrics, look for ideas for garments, and talk to many of my regular customers about what they want in their wardrobes. Many of my pieces are quite commercial and easy to wear.

Once I have my designs in my head or on paper, I start the patternmaking process with either myself or our patternmakers. We sample and fit each piece anywhere between 1 and 4 times before the look fits perfectly and is ready for production. Some garments may never get to production if they don’t have a good response or don’t get sold. Other styles we make for many years because they look great on so many different women and age groups.

I don’t want to design products that won’t be loved, cherished, or worn for a long time. I hate what fast fashion is doing to our environment — it is now the second highest polluting industry in the world after the petroleum industry.

 

Why is sustainable practice important to your label?

Sustainable practice is everything to our label. We don’t see the point in producing more clothing that will end up in landfill.

By designing and making small runs of ethically and organically produced clothing, we are lowering our environmental footprint and making sure that everyone involved, including the makers, printers, and cutters work in safe and a happy environment.

We love what we do and so do our customers, as we give them an ethical choice in the sea of unethical and fast fashion brands.

 

How would you like to see the fashion industry move forward on issues such as sustainability and ethical practice?

The fashion industry has changed since we have started our label in 2007 and has been slowly changing since I first started working in the industry in 1990. More and more businesses are taking responsibility for their supply chains and the impact they have on people and our planet.

I would like to see the biggest polluters — big chains and fast fashion brands — change their ways as they have the biggest impact on our environment and workers. I hope government and the global fashion industry will force these companies to follow strict manufacturing guidelines and lower their pollution. I just hope this happens before we cause too much damage.

 

What does participating in FASHFEST mean to you and your label?

FASHFEST is a huge part of the Canberra fashion scene. We love being a part of FASHFEST, supporting our local fashion industry and showing the national and international fashion industries what we can do here. FASHFEST highlights the amazing range of creatives in Canberra. It is wonderful being a part of the event and building relationships and business support in our home town.

Emma Batchelor

Emma Batchelor

As well as a near obsessive interest in fashion, Emma is a former scientist, occasional contemporary dancer, avid reader and self-confessed cat lady (she has three). Emma lived in Leiden in the Netherlands as a baby and Leiden ought to have been her middle name had her mother thought of it at the time and not chosen Louise instead.

4 Comments

  1. Heya Emma, was I sitting near you on Saturday night? I was taking load of photos for my coverage of Spectra. You might have been speaking with my friend.
    I am an Canberra-based sustainable fashion blogger, so it is great to hear of another local blogger who is interested in the same issues 🙂

    • We very well could have been sitting near together! I am going to send you an email!

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